Google April Fool Gmail but­ton sparks back­lash

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL - -

Google has re­moved an April Fool's Gmail but­ton, which sent a com­i­cal an­i­ma­tion to re­cip­i­ents, af­ter re­ports of peo­ple get­ting into trou­ble. The but­ton ap­peared be­side Gmail's nor­mal send but­ton and al­lowed users to shut down an email thread by send­ing a gif of a Min­ion drop­ping a mi­cro­phone. How­ever, a flurry of com­plaints about the but­ton ap­peared on Google's fo­rums. The firm has since with­drawn the fea­ture and apol­o­gised.

“It looks like we pranked our­selves this year,” Google said in a state­ment. “Due to a bug, the MicDrop fea­ture in­ad­ver­tently caused more headaches than laughs. We're truly sorry.”

A mic drop is a pop­u­lar meme in which some­one makes a con­clu­sive state­ment or re­but­tal be­fore drop­ping a mi­cro­phone and walk­ing off.

Google added that users who were still able to see the fea­ture could switch it off by reload­ing or restart­ing Gmail. The but­ton was not en­abled on the Gmail ac­counts of en­ter­prise busi­ness cus­tomers.

“Thanks to MicDrop I just lost my job,” claimed one user on Google's prod­uct fo­rums.

“I am a writer and had a dead­line to meet. I sent my ar­ti­cles to my boss and never heard back from her. I in­ad­ver­tently sent the email us­ing the MicDrop send but­ton.” An­other com­plained that they had been hav­ing in­ter­views for a job with a com­pany for three months and then ac­ci­den­tally sent a mic drop email to the HR depart­ment. And a third said that they had sent an “im­por­tant email to 30 re­cip­i­ents'.

Users had been in­formed of the but­ton and what it would do via a mes­sage in Gmail when it first ap­peared. Fur­ther­more, users with the “undo send” ca­pa­bil­ity en­abled would have been able to re­tract a mes­sage within a cer­tain time pe­riod af­ter send­ing it. Google also un­veiled a cou­ple of April Fool's joke videos, in­clud­ing one about a new para­chute de­liv­ery ser­vice and an “ac­tual re­al­ity” head­set.

Google orig­i­nally an­nounced the cre­ation of Gmail on 1 April 2004 and, at the time, there was spec­u­la­tion as to whether the email ser­vice was an April Fool's stunt.

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